The merciless gaze of the noonday sun beat down over the majestic city of Medinat Al-Salaam, the Jewel of the Desert. Its residents huddled in the shade, knowing better than to dare the heat outside. Within this sprawling metropolis was a palatial academy, where learned men and women of various faiths, beliefs, cultures and languages converged under the universal calling of learning and enlightenment.
It was in the labyrinthine hallways of the Academy that a young Unicorn Clan shugenja, Horichi Shun (played by Mappy) strode. His features were troubled, and the odd, archaic looking scroll clutched tightly in his hand was likely to be the culprit. He walked past a dozen or so classrooms, going up a flight of stairs before entering the large operating theater, where a lesson was going on.
Inside the circular room, a mixed group of students and teachers surrounded a table where a dead man lay face up, his body cut open and his organs on display. Beside the corpse stood a small woman dressed in the fashion of the locals. Only the colors and the mon on her robes indicated that she was, in fact, one of the Unicorn. The sleeves of her robes were tied back and her hands were stained in blood as she continued giving her lecture on the human anatomy using a stick to point out things of note.
Shun frowned before walking into his cousin’s line of sight, waving the scroll in the air to get her attention. Iuchi Mei-Xing (Played by Silver Countess), known by the residents of the Academy as the Sage of the Pole Star, gave a discreet nod, before quickly wrapping up her lessons.
“Cousin, what brings you to my lecture hall?” Mei-Xing asked, walking towards a basin of hot water, soaking her hands to cleanse herself of the blood, before reaching for a cotton towel held by a servant.
“Ill news, Mei.” Shun handed her the scroll, “The Khan has sent word for us to return to the homeland.”
A chill ran down her spine. “What? But what of our work? Our experiments?”
“They are to be abandoned.” Shun said bitterly, “The Khan has heard of the Yodotai’s movements and is concerned for Rokugan’s safety. We can’t say no, cousin.”
“I know that.” Mei-Xing regarded the empty lecture hall. For all their lives, Mei-Xing and shun had lived in the Jewel of the Desert. This was home to them, while Rokugan was a distant story told by their parents. While they were certainly Unicorn Samurai, they had never expected to be called to leave their place here to protect a land that they had never seen.
“I… I need some time. To make preparations, to speak with my mentor.”
“Of course.” Shun said, “I’ll see to my own preparations. Let me know if you need anything.”
“Very well, cousin. Thank you.”
Mei-Xing found Ibrahim resting underneath the shade facing one of the gardens in the academy. His sun-weathered face was kindly, and his beard, stately and well cared for.
“Ah, Mei. What bring you here? Have you finished your lecture already?”
“Master Ibrahim.” Mei gave a bow, “I’m being asked to return to my homeland.” her voice was soft, apologetic.
“I see.” Ibrahim nodded, closing his eyes, “”This is about the Yodotai then?”
“Yes, master. The Khan has asked us to return, that we may help in preparing the Empire against the Yodotai Invasion.”
Ibrahim said nothing at first, the two teachers sat quietly, contemplating the gardens.
“I do not wish to go.” Mei-Xing whispered, “I do not owe them anything. My work is here. My life is here. To be asked to abandon all I’ve known to save some faraway land… it is unfair.”
“And yet, perhaps it is the right thing to do for now.” Ibrahim said, turning to his young student. “Mei… the Jewel of the Desert is a mighty city, but against the Yodotai, a single city is nothing.”
“Don’t make me do this.” Mei-Xing wept, despite herself.
“We must all be objective in our analysis. Medinat Al-Salaam cannot stop the Yodotai, but Rokugan might. Surely your Khan feels the same way. It is the only reason why he would ask this of you.”
“But what do I do? I am just a single person.”
“Teach.” Ibrahim smiled, “And in teaching, learn.”
Mei-Xing nodded quietly.
“I will bestow upon you a gift.” Ibrahim said then, “I will have the academy round up copies of their finest books. You will bring them with you, the combined knowledge and learnings of Medinaat Al-Salaam shall made available to you.”
Mei-Xing understood the unspoken nature of that gift. Should Medinaat Al-Salaam attempt to defy the Yodotai and fail, then she would have the last record of the city’s greatness. She would have their final legacy.
“Shukran jazilan,” She said in their language, “Thank you, Master Ibrahim.”
“Go in peace, Iuchi Mei.” Ibrahim spoke, his dignity never faltering even as he regarded the academy around him, “And may all the gods watch over you.”
I’ve decided to start posting actual play reports by scene given my current workload. By doing it this way I hope to put down the progress of the group in smaller, easy to digest forms that I can slip between workdays as I struggle to keep my current posting schedules.
For those looking for a little extra, here’s Iuchi Mei-Xing’s theme song: